Opinion – Talking to an old friend

This is gonna get awkward.

Hi Final Fantasy!  It’s been a while.  I’m so sorry that we’ve lost touch.   How have you been?  Is the whole Final Fantasy XIII franchise concept working out for you?  No?  People keep complaining about bland, unlikable characters and an incomprehensible story line weighed down by three games worth of crazy?  Sorry to hear that!  …not really.  Look, it’s time to be honest with you.  When we stopped being friends, it wasn’t me, it was you.  You changed and everyone noticed.  Our good buddy who had memorable characters, unique worlds, and an epic sense of adventure was lost in a sea of flashy graphics and narrative nonsense.  I see that you’re trying to turn that around.  Final Fantasy Type-O looks amazing and I’m even hopeful for Final Fantasy XV, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Here are a few things you could work on.

Have better friends – Remember Lightening?  How she thought she was so cool because she kept her distance and never betrayed any emotion?  She was no fun.  While her devotion to her sister Serah was great and all, it seemed to be the only complexity to her.  Conversations at the bar were about swords or protecting her family, but what did she do in her off hours?  Oh, and let’s talk about Serah and her very earnest boyfriend Snow.  There’s a reason I don’t hang around 13 year olds in love.  They’re totally obsessed with each other, but have absolutely nothing in common.  Maybe you know why they’re such a great pair, but I could never figure it out.  That actually seems to be a major problem with all of your friends.  They are all about declaring emotions and making grand gestures, but there never seems to be any substance to them.  They’re just words.

Tell better stories – Final Fantasy, I know you’ve got a great imagination, but I really wish you could reign it in now and then.  You’ll start with some story about oppression or nobility and, then midway through, you’ll throw in gods and stupidly random magic powers and act like its okay that you’ve just contradicted yourself 20 times.  Look, I know you want to be interesting.  Everyone does, but the most interesting stories don’t have floating cities or thousand year old sin monsters.  The best stories talk about people and their struggles.  They pull on extraordinary circumstances to show comparatively ordinary emotions.  And they make sense.  Seriously, if I hear one more deus ex machine out of your mouth, we’re only going to meet at the bargain bin.  If you can’t explain your story to a five year old, try again.

Stop treating me like an idiot – You’ve got a lot of fun ideas for some really neat games.  I love how you’re constantly trying to invent new ways to play.  I just wish I didn’t have to sit through 30 hours of handholding to get the whole ruleset.  I also wish you didn’t create very pretty games that have all the user input of Candyland.  I’ve been playing all kinds of games since we were kids, Final Fantasy.  Many of them are much more complicated than yours, yet you’re still acting like we’re five and you won’t play with me because I’m not smart enough.

If I’m to sum up everything I’m saying, Final Fantasy, it’s grow up.  I’ve got so many more friends with incredible depth, unique character, and their own sense of style and interests.  They have grown up with me in a way that you never seemed able to achieve.  I genuinely wish you the best.  I want your new offerings to build on the concepts that everyone else has pushed forward.  I want this, but I look at your most recent games, and I’m not hopeful.

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